Sunday, January 31, 2010

Work in Progress from Sew Liberated

Come, take a peak at a project I'm working on, inspired by "Sew Liberated: 20 Stylish Products for the Modern Sewist" by Meg McElwee! Meg's book is a gorgeous introduction to the art of applique - sewing fabric patches or shapes onto a background fabric. Her directions are clear, detailed and accompanied by great pictures. She even gives specific recommendations for sourcing unusual supplies.

I am a newbie to both applique and embroidery. Meg's excellent how-to primer at the back of the book, enabled me to use both skills with ease and utmost enjoyment on my latest project: Panel Curtains for Aria's room. Take a look at Meg's design for "Woodland Curtains" straight out of Sew Liberated:

I love everything about these panel curtains - the use of 2 background fabrics, the ribbon used as a dividing line and as curtain tabs and the applique design. My daughter's old curtains were made of a bold stripe fabric from Ikea. I decided to use the stripe as the upper fabric and some solid pink I had on hand for the lower third. Since I didn't have enough pink fabric, I chose to add a natural linen rectangle in the center of the lower third portion of the curtain. That natural linen serves as a perfect background for applique. With a few quarter yards of dot and stripe Lecien prints for the applique pieces, I had my fabric pool:


Now I LOVE Meg's squirrel, but I felt it would add just one more design element into my daughter's not-so-pulled-together room. One night as I sat in Aria's room, mulling this over, I realized I could take pictures of some designs already in her room and then print them out to use as applique patterns! I'm sure this is not a new idea, but I have to say it makes it so easy! I took the bird from Jellybean Tree, which hangs above her dresser, and a flower motif from her lamp. Before printing, I used photoshop to create several sizes of the flower motif.

Next came the best part - using fusible web (thanks to Sew Liberated) to cut out the applique pieces from my fabric stack. Fusible web sticks to the wrong side of your fabric, to stabilize and make cutting small shapes a breeze. Then you simply place the pieces onto your background fabric and iron to fuse them in place. You can add decorative stitching... or not. I chose to make the bird applique without fusible web, using the raw edge applique method. Fusible web does add a stiffness to your work, which might interfere with the drape of the curtains if used on the large bird shape. Thanks for that tip, Miranda!


So fun! Lastly, I used some newly learned embroidery stitches also from Sew Liberated to add simple lines to my picture. And, let me tell you, embroidery is a great way to pass the time in the car or while watching TV. So mindless and so very satisfying. I used a chain stitch for the ground line and a stem stitch for the stems. Do you think I should add leaves? I like the simple/modern look of the design now, but wonder about adding leaves...


Now I just need to finish up my second linen panel for the opposite curtain and then do the final piecing together with the solid pink and bold stripe portions. I found some natural linen ribbon for the dividing line and curtain tabs. I'll have to update this post when it's all put together!

If you're interested in seeing more from Sew Liberated, check out Meg's website and blog, where you can see a detailed preview of the book, including the forest scene framed clock that I'm also working on! My thanks to Meg's publisher for my own copy.

UPDATE: Here are some finished pictures of Aria's Wildflower Curtains. I did leave the embroidery work pretty simplified, without leaves, trying to retain a modern vibe (though I couldn't resist adding a pink decorative stitch to the linen ribbon). Now I'm dreaming of a quilt for Aria, to finish off her room....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pajamas by Necessity

And speaking of sewing... let me catch you up on my latest project. I made pajamas for Aria and Liam. These were born out of necessity, since the only fire retardant-free children's pajamas are thin cotton knits. It's cold in our house, so thin cotton won't do. Armed with a $2.99 pattern from JoAnn's, I purchased cotton fleece (which is incredibly hard to find) and got to work. It was not fun.

I did not like working with the thin, paper pattern pieces. I did not appreciate the minimal directions included. And before long, I realized that the patterns I had chosen were not the simplest ideas. It probably took about 16 hours per pair of pajamas. Ouch. I'm sure this was due mainly to my inexperience. But before I go on complaining, let's see some pictures.

posing

Here's what happens when you ask a 3-year-old to stand by his desk for a picture. As you can see, he stood reallllllly still.

This is what happens when you let him roll around with his toys. _MG_9658smallDoes he look calm and serene in this picture? Don't be fooled, he's just occupied kicking the door. Notice the cute little turquoise ducky on the front of his top? Love it! Liam helped me choose this fabric (it's by Lizzy House), which I quilted over the cotton fleece to give his pajamas some personality. I've only been able to find cotton fleece in solid colors. It's a lot like sweatshirt fabric with a nice soft, brushed side that's super cozy.

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And here are some more pictures just for fun. His cute little behind crawling behind our tree. (I already miss our tree, especially the popcorn/cranberry garland!) He was playing hard-to-photograph._MG_9662small

Here he's trying to distract me from taking pictures by pulling a gingerbread/applesauce boy off the tree. Little does he know that we'll be taking the tree down later that day, which was New Years Day.

At the table, Aria is doing some sewing of her own. She's thrilled to have her own sewing box now, and a new set of her very own pins.


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Makes her feel so grown up! But, honestly, doesn't that hand look like so tiny? Please humor me! She's working on a shirt of some kind for her baby doll, made of cotton fleece scraps.


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Before long, brother is feeling left out and angles a way into the picture. He's helping, I'm sure.


Aria's PjsI finished Aria's pajamas today, and good riddance. I'm so glad to be done with clothes and get back to something more fun (for me). I definitely gained an appreciation for the value of ready-made clothing, let me tell you! Now if only one could buy warm children's pajamas that aren't riddled with chemical fire retardants....


Here are Aria's pjs, embellished with a butterfly fabric by Alexander Henry.


Now, onto some coasters, or maybe a clock, or both?



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